HELP! My Adolescent Dog is Driving Me Crazy!
Updated: Oct 7
Beginning around 6-8 months until 2 or 3 years of age, your puppy begins to transition from adorable puppyhoodinto the adolescent and “teenage” stage.
Are you ready?
Just like with humans, adolescence poses new challenges, stubborn and bratty behaviors and efforts to explore outside the comfort zone. Limits will be tested, and it may even seem like your puppy has forgotten everything he previously learned.
Defining the Teenage Dog
The adolescent period is full of changes including:
· Biological (hormones); and
As your dog grows to physical maturity (between two and three years of age), behavior issues may be more pronounced between six and 12 months. But it’s important to remember, this process is completely natural and not as desperate as it may seem at first glance. There’s also a lot you can do before adolescence strikes!
Preparing for K9 Adolescence: 6 Critical Steps
In order to adequately prepare for your puppy’s adolescent stage, the steps below will help! While some puppy behaviors may be “cute,” once your dog becomes larger and stronger through puberty and beyond, many of these behaviors have the potential to become larger and even harmful. So, prepare beforehand.
1. Begin puppy training EARLY including basic commands:
2. Teach your puppy self-control:
· Leave it command
· Drop it command
3. Incorporate crate training to:
· Provide a safe/quiet place for your dog to go to
· Prevent your adolescent dog from getting into trouble
4. Consistently practice/enforce dog obedience! Ask your dog to follow your commands and reward them for doing so with treats or favorite toys they can’t resist.
5. Do as much socialization as early as you can!
6. Work on – and reinforce – your bond with your puppy constantly. This bond will help you when your puppy becomes a teenager!
With these steps firmly in place early on with your puppy, these same steps will be invaluable when facing and dealing with the challenges of canine adolescence!
Addressing K9 Adolescence: 4 Effective Steps
During your dog’s adolescent period, there are effective steps to address the ensuing challenges. Now is not the time to let up on training, exercise or socialization efforts!
1. Regular Mental and Physical Exercise
Exercise, both physical and mental, are critical no matter your dog’s age! But it’s particularly important when your dog is a full-blown teenager! A physically and mentally tired dog is a really good dog!
Exercises that challenge both their mental and physical abilities will give your teenage pup an effective and proper outlet for his never-ending energy! Include exercises like:
o Obedience and Trick Training
o Dog Agility
o Puzzle Toys
o Food-Dispensing Toys
o Group Training Classes
2. Continue Regular Socialization Efforts
Keep positively exposing your now-adolescent dog to different places, people, other dogs, pets and animals and situations. Teenage dogs can suddenly become anxious or
fearful even with things they had no problem with before. So, it’s important to keep creating positive associations through consistent socialization to avoid the creation of new fears or phobias by your dog.
3. Use Praise and Rewards
When dogs hit adolescence, it can be difficult to keep their attention on you or on what you are asking. That adorable puppy who once hung on your every word, now has a mind of his own. “High value” treats or toys can help you redirect and keep your teenage dog’s attention. It’s important to find what motivates YOUR dog the best and use it to your advantage.
4. Continue to be Consistent, Patient and Calm
While it may seem like your teenage dog is “out to get you,” nothing could be further from the truth. Your puppy is now growing up and exploring his world and boundaries in new and sometimes, unpredictable ways. So, make sure you continue to make him feel safe and secure with his:
· Regular routines (walks, play and exercise).
· Normal schedules (feeding and potty breaks).
· Daily training.
And remember to generously praise and reward all good behavior!
There’s no doubt that dog adolescence can be a challenging time for dog owners. If you find yourself losing patience or unable to correct unwanted teenage behaviors, call in a K9 behaviorist to help! It’s ok to ask for help and address issues early before they grow into serious or even dangerous K9 behaviors!
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